European Council, 23-24 June 2011
This was an important European Council that took crucial and substantive decisions
"On Greece, we have once again shown that we find agreement when agreement is needed" President Barroso said at the press conference following the European Council, while adding that this Council has shown that "our new way of dealing with the European economy is working". On Schengen, the Council agreed on "an EU based approach to avoid the risk of unilateral action which disrupts free movement and could also undermine the single market". On the Southern Mediterranean, President Barroso expressed his satisfaction with the European Council's support for the approach that the Commission has advocated for the region: "We all support the calls for democracy, social justice and shared prosperity." President Barroso also expressed his hope that everything will be ready for Croatia to become the 28th member of the EU by 1st July 2013. Finally, he congratulated Mr Mario Draghi on his appointment as President of the European Central Bank: "I know him well, I know his commitment to Europe, his exceptional competence in economic and monetary affairs. We wish him the best."
"There is a real will to do what is necessary to preserve the financial stability in the Euro area"
At the press conference following the first day of the European Council President Barroso outlined the main aspects of the presentation he gave to the Heads of State and Government on the overview of the economic situation in Europe. The President said that "There was a real commitment to pursue the reforms that we believe are essential for Europe's competitiveness". On the situation in Greece, he underlined that every available possibility should be used to stimulate growth and jobs: "We are ready to consider all proposals for reprogramming and restructuring funding to deliver rapid and better results on the ground". "I am extremely happy with the clear endorsement by the European Council of the intention presented by the Commission, namely where the European Council states that it welcomes and supports the preparation by the Commission together with the Member States of a comprehensive programme for technical assistance to Greece." the President concluded.
"This European Council will take important steps to ensure that the EU's economic policy-making is both more coherent and more effective."
In his statement at the Press conference in advance of the European Council President Barroso highlighted the position of the Commission on some of the most important points on the Council's substantive agenda such as migration, economic governance package and financial sector taxation. On the situation in Greece the President stated: "Greece has the potential to access a significant amount of EU money under cohesion policy. We should concentrate these funds on where it matters the most now: on improving competitiveness and employment. We should coordinate them, so that we make the most impact. We should find ways to frontload and accelerate them, so that Greece gets the benefit now."
"We have important economic issues to discuss"
In a letter to the Members of the European Council, Commission President José Manuel Barroso laid out the Commission's perspectives on the upcoming European Council agenda. He highlighted four main issues: migration, the Southern Neighbourhood, financial sector taxation and the administrative burden on SMEs.
On migration, he pledged support for the swift completion of the Common European Asylum System, adding that "the abolition of controls at internal borders goes hand in hand with common rules, solidarity and a shared responsibility for external borders".
Around the issue of the Southern Neighbourhood, President Barroso reviewed the support offered to the region and commented on upcoming plans, for example the proposal to appoint an EU special representative for the Southern Mediterranean.
The President stated that the Commission had found "a strong case for deciding on a financial sector tax in the EU as a first step." It will present a formal legislative proposal after the summer and will continue to aim for "a global agreement on a financial transaction tax."
Finally, President Barroso shared his concern that the Council appears prepared to accept lower targets in reducing red tape for SMEs than those offered by the Commission. He urged the Council to reconsider the proposals which would reduce administrative burden by more than 31%, especially considering the importance of SMEs for the European economy.
Europe 2020 targets [188 KB]
European Council conclusions [160 KB]